Judge Beck served 11 years in the 7th Circuit.
When Judge David Beck and Chief Judge Terry Perkins first discussed the idea of a court specifically for veterans, the shared a bag of M&Ms. That memory was brought to life during a ceremony May 26 renaming the court after Beck and his service to his community.
"He (Perkins) said to me, 'What do you think about this?'" Beck said. "I said, 'How about some money?' Needless to say, that didn't work. All I got was M&Ms and a morning with my dearest friends."
Their idea came to fruition in November of 2013, and Beck was the court's first presiding judge. He served 11 years in the 7th Circuit and retired in 2014.
Beck had first-hand experience in the struggles veterans faced when returning to civilian life. In the 1970s he served in the U.S. Army, supervised a military police unit and served in Okinawa, Japan, and earned the rank of lieutenant.
"People didn't like us very much back then," he said about coming home to Ormond Beach during the Vietnam War era. "There I was, serving in a war that nobody wanted."
In an op-ed he wrote about the court, Beck cited a young former Marine he had met who became addicted to painkillers after being injured by an improvised explosive device. He saw many domestic-violence cases where post-traumatic stress disorder played a huge role.
"We’re in the business of doing justice and of doing the right thing," he wrote. "Hopefully we can help these veterans find the right path, and in so doing re-engage them in again being vital, contributing members of society. We as a nation asked them to serve. I believe we owe them at least this much.
The ceremony was held at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and included city and county proclamations and commemorative gifts from several veterans groups. Veterans Court continues in Volusia County, with hearings in both DeLand and Daytona Beach. The program has had 174 graduates since its inception. The program has since expanded to St. Johns County.
"Words are hard to come by now," said Beck to the events nearly 300 attendees. "I would just say I feel words like 'humble,' and 'undeserving' pop in my head. The only thing I can say is that I am truly blessed. May God bless you all."